CHICAGO — Energetic and possessing a brilliant, electric smile, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Dawn Page, a Civil Affairs Soldier, had a remarkable Warrior Games during the annual event, June 30 to Saturday. She gold medaled in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races.
However, her journey to the games has not been an easy one.
Deployed to Jordan in June 2015, Page went for a three-mile recreational hike. She came upon a cliff with a waterfall and she slipped and fell into a cave behind the waterfall, breaking her left arm and dislocating her shoulder.
And no one saw her fall.
“On the day I fell, I was with a Marine and he went to the right so I decided to go the other way,” Page said. “I stepped on what I thought was a rock, but in retrospect was a reflection from the pool and I fell. There is no way they would have found me, even though they were looking for me, because I was right below their feet, with a current of water and a waterfall in between.”
Badly hurt and disoriented, she wasn’t sure she could make it out. She struggled for two hours, praying for God’s help.
“I had a hard time seeing myself getting out of that cave, getting out of that hole,” she said. “So, when I was down there in the cave, I prayed to God. It was so dark in there, and I prayed to God for a sign. I got this millisecond ray of sunlight that shone through the cave in the direction that I came from. I didn’t believe it. I just decided, let me go that way, and if I die going that way then at least I died trying to get out.”
It took Page two hours to crawl out to safety. At the hospital, Page finally picked up her cellphone and found a text message from her future wife, U.S. Army Sgt. Dana Childress-Page. The text, and the time stamp, left her speechless.
“It was nothing but sunshines (emojis), at the exact moment while I was in the cave,” she said. “I knew at once, once I get home, she and I were getting married, and that was it. Had I not had her in my life at that time, I don’t believe I would have made it out.”
“I was in airborne school at the time, and I had a feeling something was going on with her,” Childress-Page said. “I sent her a text with some sunshine (emojis) because for some reason, I thought she was having a hard day. I hadn’t heard from her since the night before.
“We look back at the texts, and at that moment, while she was drowning in the waterfall, she saw a ray of sunshine, and she went for it. It was like we were connected.” Then she paused, tears rolled down her freckled checks. “It was awesome,” Childress-Page said. “She said I saved her life that day.”
Once Page returned to Fort Bragg, she had surgery to repair her shoulder. Her physical wounds would heal, but she began to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress.
Page’s wife watched her struggle with PTS.
“She’s very compartmentalized, so I had to learn how to deal with different moods,” Childress-Page said. “She’ll have some PTS memories. She won’t say it, but you can tell, because her attitude will change. She’ll get stuck in one spot.
“But she’s the most resilient person I’ve ever met. She’s always trying to keep herself busy and move forward and go forward and excel, make her body better, eat better.”
Post-surgery, Page signed up for the U. S. Special Operations Command’s Care Coalition Wounded Warriors program for her PTS and physical issues. Childress-Page eventually did, too. She wrecked both hips and her left shoulder in training and she plans to compete in next year’s Warrior Games.
“Dana and I are completely different which works well for our marriage,” said Page “I tend to compartmentalize my emotions and Dana knows when I do and she really tries to pull me out.”
Through the Care Coalition’s adaptive sports program, Page has found people she can relate to and a kindred spirit.
“I didn’t want people to know I was suffering. I tried to hide it. I saw a flyer about the Care Coalition’s adaptive sports program,” she said. “I thought I would give it a try and what a blessing it has been. I’ve met people who have had harder journeys than I and it really has allowed me to open up.
“The Care Coalition is all about getting people healthy again, and if possible, returning to active duty,” she said.
This was Page’s first Warrior Games and she competed in track, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, shooting and cycling. She has had a fantastic track meet winning the three gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400 meters races. 
Next year, Childress-Page plans to compete and Page plans on being her biggest cheerleader.
“Dana has had two hip surgeries and will have a shoulder surgery,” Page said. “She will be competing next year and I will take a back seat and just cheer her on.”
The couple still are awe-inspired by their metaphysical shared ray of light that saved her life. “It still gives me goose bumps,” Dawn said.